Ruth

Ruth

3.7 19
by Elizabeth Gaskell
     
 

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In Ruth Elizabeth Gaskell set out to portray, not 'the Condition of England' already famously addressed in Mary Barton, but the nature and sensibility of a fallen woman. Her orphaned heroine Ruth, apprenticed to a dressmaker, is seduced and then abandoned by wealthy young Henry Bellingham. Shamed in the eyes of society by her illegitimate son, and yet rejecting the… See more details below

Overview

In Ruth Elizabeth Gaskell set out to portray, not 'the Condition of England' already famously addressed in Mary Barton, but the nature and sensibility of a fallen woman. Her orphaned heroine Ruth, apprenticed to a dressmaker, is seduced and then abandoned by wealthy young Henry Bellingham. Shamed in the eyes of society by her illegitimate son, and yet rejecting the opportunity to marry her seducer, Ruth finds a path that affirms we are not bound to repeat our mistakes. When Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell's second novel, appeared in 1853 its first reviewers were less scandalized than moved and intrigued. In considering a 'fallen woman', Gaskell explores the worlds of nineteenth-century experience concerned with women and family, sexuality, love and religion. She declared of her critics: 'It has made them talk and think a little on a subject which is so painful it requires all one's bravery not to hide one's head like an ostrich.'.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A generally good teaching edition at a reasonable price."--Christopher C. Dahl, University of Michigan, Dearborn

"Essential that this remain in print for Victorian culture studies."--Linda Shires, Syracuse University

"I'm happy that you have made Ruth affordable for classroom use. Ruth illuminates many of the conflicts over 'the fallen woman' as Christian martyr or feminist hero seen in more famous Victorian novels such as Tess and The Scarlet Letter. Your edition is well-edited and readably printed."--Dr. Jeanette Shumaker, San Diego State University (Imperial Valley Branch)

"OUP is the only publisher of this in paperback. It's a significant book for any Victorian literature course and particularly for one on Victorian women."--Eleanor McNees, University of Denver

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934648490
Publisher:
Norilana Books
Publication date:
04/01/2008
Pages:
488
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.09(d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in London in 1810, but she spent her formative years in Cheshire, Stratford-upon-Avon and the north of England. In 1832 she married the Reverend William Gaskell, who became well known as the minister of the Unitarian Chapel in Manchester’s Cross Street. As well as leading a busy domestic life as minister’s wife and mother of four daughters, she worked among the poor, traveled frequently and wrote. Mary Barton (1848) was her first success.

Two years later she began writing for Dickens’s magazine, Household Words, to which she contributed fiction for the next thirteen years, notably a further industrial novel, North and South (1855). In 1850 she met and secured the friendship of Charlotte Brontë. After Charlotte’s death in March 1855, Patrick Brontë chose his daughter’s friend and fellow-novelist to write The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), a probing and sympathetic account, that has attained classic stature. Elizabeth Gaskell’s position as a clergyman’s wife and as a successful writer introduced her to a wide circle of friends, both from the professional world of Manchester and from the larger literary world. Her output was substantial and completely professional. Dickens discovered her resilient strength of character when trying to impose his views on her as editor of Household Words. She proved that she was not to be bullied, even by such a strong-willed man.

Her later works, Sylvia’s Lovers (1863), Cousin Phillis (1864) and Wives and Daughters (1866) reveal that she was continuing to develop her writing in new literary directions. Elizabeth Gaskell died suddenly in November 1865.

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